My Phone Bill: A Horror Story With a Happy Ending

In last Monday's post, I asked my readers to analyze my budget to bring down some of my expenses so I could save $4,000 by January 1st.

Almost all of the commenters mentioned how high my phone bill is. At $160/month, that's only if we really, really watch our minutes. If we go over, which we regularly do, that number can increase by 40%.

The phone bill that I mentioned is a family plan under which both my boyfriend's phone and my own phone are covered. So the price is really for two phones, but his is only about $45 of the cost. The rest of the balance is all me.

The boy doesn't have a smart phone, which dictates that his bill is lower than mine. But the fact is, my phone is grossly overpriced and I'm horrified every time I see the bill.

I have a contract with Rogers. I hate contracts and I hate Rogers almost equally as much as contracts, so that puts me in a very bad position. I can't imagine ever thinking that the ability to call, text, and email on a tiny device is worth $115+/month. But I signed my contract and no matter how many times I've tried to change my plan, I always end up paying around the same amount.

Now, for all of you American readers, please keep in mind that $10/month cell phone and data plans don't happen in Canada. Ever. In Canada, we pay a lot more than you guys do for cell phones, for some reason unbeknownst to me. I'd say it's nearly impossible to find a plan with data for under $50/month. And maybe I just haven't looked into it for awhile, but I'd say it's not likely to even find anything under $60/month.

But after all of the comments and surprise at how expensive that is (and many of them were likely due to you thinking that I paid $160+ for one phone, when really it's two), I decided to explore my options.

I've mentioned before that I work in a big organization. Because of this, I knew we had some corporate discounts that are made available to my industry, and I had heard my colleagues talk about the phone plans. I looked into the plans awhile ago but didn't pursue it. I didn't really absorb how inexpensive they were compared to our current plan.

But I looked again after reading the comments on that post and did a quick analysis of the costs.

After seeing that I could save $80+/month on our phone bills, I called right away.

The Savings

When I called in, I was a little leery as to whether or not this would actually save us money. I've tried so many times to reduce our phone bill, but if it ever happened, it would only go down by less than $5. But of course then I'd have to call in and deal with long hold times and a headache trying to deal with Rogers call center employees, so I didn't usually bother.

This time, I had a clear plan and when I called in, as a corporate customer, I didn't have to be on hold.

That was the first bonus. I hate being on hold probably more than I hate spending so much on my phone bill.

The customer service agent marveled at how high our bill was currently, and made the switch to the corporate plan right away.

She told me what the price would be with fees and taxes and explained to me what I get with my new plan. These are the differences:

New Plan Old Plan
Cost $77/month $153/month
Includes 500 mb data 1 G data
400 anytime minutes/line 400 anytime minutes pooled
Unlimited text SMS Unlimited text SMS
Basic voicemail Visual voicemail
Call display Call display
Unlimited evening/weekend Unlimited evening/weekend

 

As you can see, the difference will add up to almost $1,000 savings per year. The biggest difference is that we have more anytime minutes and less data.

Because at work we have WIFI , and we also have it at the gym, at home, and in most other public places, I don't use all that much data. I don't anticipate ever going over the 500 MB. The only time I ever have was when I was travelling and needed to use my Google Map app a lot more frequently than usual.

The old phone bill also came out to far more than the $153/month almost every month. This was because the minutes were usually inadequate, costing us more every time we went over the allotted minutes.

With $1,000/year extra, we could put that toward early retirement, buy a new TV, revamp our wardrobes, do a minor renovation on our future house, buy a plane ticket, go on a weekend getaway, save for a new car, or any number of things.

Do you have any discounts through your workplace? Have you taken advantage of anything like this? Did it end up saving you money?

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40 thoughts on “My Phone Bill: A Horror Story With a Happy Ending

  1. Wow! what a saving. A great example of where others can provide a good insight into areas for improvement! Congrats on the savings - be sure to treat yourselves to dinner

  2. It's strange that they removed visual voicemail from your plan. I loooooved that feature (huge reason why I kept my iPhone for so long) and probably would have argued for that one. It surely isn't costing them much to provide me with that service.

    Another reason I kept my iPhone was because I was getting a corporate discount but through my school. If your school or employer is teamed up with your carrier, you can (usually) sign up for the discount as long as you can check that email account. I could check my college email up until last year (7 years after I graduated) so I was able to qualify for the discount (they didn't check if you're still in school, just that you got the email). That was saving me $10/mo, which was the price of my texting plan, so it meant I was getting texts for free.

  3. Congrats for you! I am constantly negotiating our cell phones/plans. We're with Telus and happy with them. They have monthly promos so I check every month to see if we can do any better with what they're offering that month. Hubby also uses a load of min every month which is killer. I managed to work with Telus and combine 2 plans that gives him 700 anytime mins, free evening/weekend, caller ID, voicemail, 1G data and a month promo of free airtime. Keep checking w/ rogers if they're anything like telus they often have promos you can switch up!

  4. Saweet savings! I have to switch providers to take advantage of my corporate discount. Plus, the discount package doesn't include some things that are important to us (ie National my10).

    Some of the reasons that we have higher costs: lack of population density, auctioned and limited entry to being a wireless provider. Also, apparently we have some of the cheapest cell phone costs in the world... but I swear those studies compare a plan that NO ONE has, because my bills have been lower EVERYWHERE else I've ever lived!

  5. Wow, that's a huge savings! We are fortunate that my husband gets a 25% discount through work, and my company reimburses us about $90/mo for our bill (but that looks like it will end at the end of the year). In the end, we end up paying about $20/mo for our bill. It's been nice, but I think our bill will go up to about $110/mo starting in January---boo! It's still not too bad I suppose, since we get his discount.

  6. Wow that is great! We pay around $160 for three phones (my sister is on our plan) and we receive about a 20% discount from the boy's old job. This includes internet plans and unlimited texts and free minutes on nights and weekends, so we are pretty happy with ours.

  7. I can't believe how much you pay for a cell phone in Canada. A few Canadians have mentioned it on my blog in the past and the difference is unreal! Great job getting yours down so much.

  8. Emily @ evolvingPF

    So glad you looked into your options! It's hard to give advice across borders since so many tricks are local.

    We do have a cell phone discount available through our employer, but I think it's only about 10-15%. We also get discounts for other utility companies as well as the normal student discounts at retailers.

  9. Mrs.CBB is with Rogers and has been for a while now. Although she doesn't have a smart Phone she pays $30 a month for her cell with the best pkg you can get from them without a data plan. It's $17 a month plus her $10 bundle an taxes whatever that comes out to. She calls Rogers Rententions each year as a valued customer to get the promotional deals. I wrote a post up all about it. We pay $144.76 to Rogers each month. That covers Cell phone with unlimited text, free evenings and weekends after 6pm,bundle ( voicemail etc)150 Free long distance minutes, (no plan), Home Phone with 2 features, 500 Canada Long Distance Minutes, Rogers to Rogers, VIP Cable + free PVR and Digital box, Internet Light 50% off for the year + free modem.. not bad for that price. Rogers has always been good to Mrs.CBB when she calls. If you are a good customer and long term they take good care of you IMO. Way to go on lowering you bill.. that's a huge savings!!! Mr.CBB

  10. Brian

    I would destroy 500mb of data... But then again I am a heavy user. But that is some pretty good savings and it sounds like you have a lot of open Wifi's around!

  11. Great job reducing your bill. You've got a decent plan now but plans with data for less than $50/mth DO exist. I currently have President's Choice prepaid which costs $0/mth (pay per use). You have to buy a $100 credit once a year to keep the thing active and your balance carries over. You can add on 100MB of data for $10/mth. It's enough for email, twitter, light browsing, and apps that use a light amount of data.

    Right now I pay about $100/mth inc taxes for 15Mbps (up & down) fiber optic high speed internet, home phone with unlimited North American long distance (magicJack), unlimited TV (it's all free legally online with a home theater PC hooked up to my big screen), unlimited movies (Netflix), and 2 cell phones (1 with 100MB data)

  12. Elena @ Church Jokes

    Corporate discounts can be really great. My discount saves me as much as 8% off my phone bill, but also what can help is analyzing your bill every month and figuring out what features you don't use and don't need that much. Let's say you have a texting plan for 250 messages, but using only 5 messages a month - you can easily drop it and save money every month. $5/month can add up to $60 a year and so on.

  13. Edward Antrobus

    Congrats on the savings. I never thought I would use that much data, but I've been listening to Pandora while riding my bike to work, and that seems to take up about a gig of bandwith by itself over the course of the month.

  14. Congrats on your savings. We have a family plan through my father-in-laws work. Saves us a ton of money on our phones.
    It's crazy how much technology can end up costing us. I remember when I was a kid and all of the phone companies were touting their long distance plans.

  15. HOLY! O_O! That's A LOT of money for cellphones! I'm glad you could reduce it by practically half!

    PS - If you download an app called Onavo Extend. It will also help further reduce your by compressing your data. I use it and it's saved me (since January) over 2.6GB of data. Here's their website: http://www.onavo.com/apps/iphone

  16. Wow that's huge savings. I had no idea that Canadian cell phone plans were so much more expensive then the plans here in the states. I get a 20% discount through my employer. It's not a lot about every little bit helps.

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  18. So glad you got such great savings. My work doesn't offer anything, but it seems like there are some good deals. As a fellow Canadian, I feel your pain of terribly expensive plans!

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  20. Rogers is the worst of the 3 majors in Canada.

    My contract with Telus is up. They are currently offering me a new 3-year contract that costs $55/m that includes top 10 numbers nationwide unlimited calling. 200 any-time minutes, visual voice mail, call ID, 1GB data, unlimited evenings/weekends.

    All I have to do now is decide what handset to get.

  21. Emily

    Sounds like you are in Vancouver. So, Wind Mobile? $40 month for unlimited data and minutes and texts. Bam.

    1. Post author

      The bam would only apply if we weren't already on a contract, haha. But also Wind only reaches so far and unfortunately the boy's work is wide spread. There are a lot of areas in which he works that he wouldn't get service.

  22. Talk about a great save! I really need to find a lower cost plan, and I pay for four phones (me, my parents and my BF). Our company doesn't offer any corporate discounts though. I need to make this a priority!

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  25. I like what you guys are up too. This type of
    clever work and exposure! Keep up the awesome works guys I’ve incorporated you guys
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  26. exaro

    I just came across this article via a link from another site. Given the original was written in the fall of 2012, the "deal" was in fact grossly over-priced. I switched from Telus, which refused to do anything for me to reduce my bill aside from the tinkering the author describes to adjust it <$5/mo. For $56 Fido gave me unlimited Canada-wide calling, in/out, anytime; 2Gb data; unlimited intentional text; visual voice mail and caller ID. This was a holiday-season promotion for which the regular price is currently $75 - still better than the author's plan for a much better plan and the same quality/coverage area as the industry leader in Canada, i.e. Rogers. Since I brought my own phone, no contract commitment was required.

    Generally, the big carriers flanker brands - Fido, Koodo and Virgin are much better priced than their parent companies. They have eliminated long distance charges in Canada and never charge roaming fees for calls made/received anywhere in Canada, unlike Wind. Plus users get the network quality of Rogers/Telus/Bell respectively.

    Wind works hard to hide its in-Canada roaming fees while boasting about its low rates for US roaming and has minimal quality network and coverage.

    There are some excellent regional plans; e.g. people in Saskatchewan and Manitoba get far better prices than most Canadians, but these are not available to most of us.

    In year's past the December holiday period was the best time of year to negotiate a mobile plan. This was not as obvious in 2013 and who knows what will happen in 2014. Public Mobile has already been absorbed by Telus, Mobilicity is on the verge of bankruptcy collapse and Wind is desperately searching for a buy-out partner (its business model is unsustainable and it has run out of money to upgrade its network). I don't expect prices to see a significant drop in the near future.

    An hour's online research time should show $80 month is the most anyone should need to pay for voice and data unless that plan to constantly stream video to their smartphone.

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